PERSONAL INJURIES – Supreme Court dismisses child’s appeal for playground injuries

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a decision of the High Court which found that Long¬ford Town Council were not liable for the injuries sustained by a child in a playground.

The plaintiff in the case Ahmed v Longford Town Council fell off a swing and landed on a concrete surface, missing the protective rubber matting underneath the swing and causing him to fracture his arm.

In the High Court the plaintiff put forward evidence that the swing had been set 20 millimetres too low and this made it hazardous, as the low seat caused him to catch his foot on a downward swing and fall to the hard surface.

The plaintiff also argued that the hard surface was too close to the swing and the protective rubber matting should have been extended further.

However, experts for the Council also put forward conflicting evidence that all reasonable steps had been taken in the designing and manufacture of the swings to avoid injury.

In the High Court the trial judge accepted the Council’s evidence and noted that “You can’t avoid accidents to children, I know this as a fact, and it just can’t be done”.

The trial judge also placed significant emphasis on the fact that the playground had been in considerable use without prior incident.

The plaintiff appealed on the grounds that the judge had misdirected himself on the law and had failed to have sufficient regard for the plaintiff’s expert evidence. The grounds were given short shrift by the Supreme Court.

The Court held that although the plaintiff had put forward credible evidence, the trial judge was entitled to prefer the defendant’s evidence. The plaintiff’s appeal on the ground that the judge had misdirected himself in law was unfounded.